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It’s safe to say Mental Health and the Environment are two hot topics that most of us probably hear reference to on a daily basis. And for good reason. Individually these issues have become a growing concern for all of us and draw many similarities.
- Directly impact our wellbeing and health
- Require a daily level of personal commitment to drive change
- Effect every single one of us
- Will get worse if we don’t do something about it
These are things we all know.
But what we are less aware of, is the direct relationship between the two and how you can actually use one to help the other. Why? Well, research actually shows that when we spend more energy on living in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way, we feel happier.
There are many factors to why we should all be considering the importance the impact living sustainably can have on our mental health. But here’s my top five:
- The cleaner the air, the less at risk we are to depression: With studies now showing children who have grown up in areas where there is higher air pollution are three or four times more likely to have depression when they become adults, there really is a clear link.
- The climate crisis is increasing levels of anxiety and hopelessness: For obvious reasons the instability of the planet is causing people to feel disempowered and concerned about the future. However by ‘doing our bit,’ we feel empowered and experience a renewed sense of hope to our lives.
- Sustainable living is a instant way of valuing your place in this world and feeling a deeper sense of connection: When we feel low and experience symptoms of depression or stress, we can often feel disconnected and loose our sense of purpose. By focusing on the small things we can do each day, to live in a more environmentally friendly way, we are acknowledging the difference we can make and allowing ourselves to connect and be part of a community.
- Kindness matters: When we are being kind we are tapping into our compassionate minds and it is in our compassionate minds where positive thoughts about ourselves form. So put simply when you show kindness to the world you will feel good about yourself.
- Sense of Satisfaction: Having activities or tasks you accomplish in your day that provide you with a sense of satisfaction, is considered a key element in keeping our minds happy. Have you ever been plastic free shopping, come home with smaller grocery bill and no endless bits of plastic? It may take a little longer to source those plastic free items, but I can promise you, that satisfaction you feel, always makes it worth while.
So the next question is how can we put this mood boosting medicine to work…..
Well the great thing about this is, big or small, there will always be something achievable we each can do. Things like using our car less, (I’ve recently heard Southsea are going to be putting in more community bike stores which is great!); Eating less meat; Recycling more and getting yourself knowledgeable on what can and can’t be recycled; Talking to others about what their doing (there's always something new to learn); If somethings broke, seeing if it’s repairable (I recently took two plugs and my lap top to a repair store to be fixed. I can’t tell you how much better it felt knowing I wasn’t contributing to this throw away society we’ve created, plus saved me money too); And of course, right up there at the top, START SHOPPING PLASTIC FREE :)
By Nathalie Kealy
Nathalie is the founder of Value Your Mind, which offers holistic mental wellbeing support, through self-confidence coaching, mental wellbeing retreats and a variety of workshops. She has worked as a mental health nurse in the NHS for 11 years & is trained as a compassion focused therapist and yoga/ meditation teacher.
She is also the host of the Calm Mind Confident Life Podcast; where she shares lots of free tips and tools on mental wellbeing. As well as many calming guided meditations.
You can find out more about her here: